Welcome to the part of the world where cherubs pee a fountain of water into a miniature tub and the likes of Herodotus harmlessly stream water at you no matter how irrational you behave. I’m talking about my Italian date in Pulchowk that makes my lunch breaks longer. The date spot Casa Toscana is 200 bucks far from my office and a stone’s throw from my friend’s, making it an ideal lunch spot.

Weird as I can get, I redefine lunch etiquettes and choose to enter Casa Panetteria (which shares the floor) before I head for the lunch. The chatty guy on the other side of the counter has lots of sweet stuff to offer but no tough time for me – chocolate mousse is my everlasting love-affair. Now, this version comes in a chocolate cup topped with cream and nuts and chocolate droplets and gooey chewy bits of caramelized sugar. The chatty guy is a culinary Agony Uncle and has a list of suggestions from Iced Mocha to Lemon Soda up his sleeve. I go for Diet Coke, the lemon slice is his complementary gesture. Tragedy: my expectations of a heavenly devour are wrecked by an ugly lackluster spoon that turns up on the plate with the mousse – a disappointment; I console myself with the edible cup it comes in – one made of chocolate.

I start with Insalata Caprese. Balsamic is like a magnet to me – I’m simply attracted to any salad that has Balsamic clinging to its name. The arrangement of alternate slices of plum tomatoes and fresh mozzarella is a presentation that scores a five star for me. Plus the rosemary and right-from-the-kitchen-garden basil; it is the stuff like this that gets you asking for more. The lettuce marinated in lemon juice is a harmonious accompaniment to the slices of the plum tomatoes.

A warm soup is a wise choice of beginner for winter meals. The Chicken Soup is nothing short of brilliant. Almost clear but for the suspension of chicken bits, the melted butter on the top gleams as basil and celery float on the deep plate (yes you read it right). Served with a slice of heavily buttered garlic bread, Zuppa di Pollo gives off a subtle smell and leaves a garlic-y aftertaste which however is not thick or sticky.

My main course for the afternoon is Funghi Risotto. The Arborio rice is enough to strike my nostalgic chords. I’m taken back to my country house where Mom made heavenly porridge of Arborio and my brother would not abandon the kitchen until the vat ended up on the basin.  The rice comes in a mushroom sauce with mushroom bites – mushrooms of all types. Garnished with fresh basil, the aroma is fulfilling and the aftertaste satiating.

Since I’ve already had my share of desert, I wave my hand to summon one of the guys whose t-shirts read Let’s Coffee and I asked for an Americano. My inference – the magic lies in the brew, not in the brand. Although they use local organic coffee beans, the aroma is distractingly awesome and the taste is equally penetrating. I adore the cup with a thin edge because it makes drinking a lot easier.  

My Verdict
rnA lunch at Casa Toscana is a perfect Monday-morning-blues buster. It has this laid back atmosphere of a European vacation with a professional service. They can actually boast of the diverse dining wares they have but for people who have been to places that offer untouched-by-hand service, a Martha Stewarty service wouldn’t hurt. I appreciate the fact that they mind the temperature at which they serve cooked food, it’s never too hot. I would however take this opportunity to draw my sister’s grave concern towards the existence of a single restroom - that’s rather gross, both of us agree.  !

My Happiness Index
Furnishings    Seating arrangements proper almost any sort of dining
Ambience       The soothing colors, entrance could be warmer
Cutlery             Nice plates, need to work on the metal stuff
Service            The wait staff remember my face
Restroom       Urinals with sensors, goes with the theme
My rating         Verdicts are  subjective but mine’s positive

5 ws
Where’s it located?
Pulchowk, take the turn towards Jhamsikhel.

What not to wear?       
No dress code, avoid an all-black getup though.

Why drop in?       
Anything Italian and the desserts (heavenly)     

When to visit?        
Lunches and early dinners

How much to carry?    
A full course for two approaches 3000 with taxes.